Name: “Dutch Lady”
Encountered: Awful 11-hour government bus from Shimla to Dharamsala
After a hurried breakfast of scalding tea, frigid toast, and a quick, violent poop on Steve’s part, we raced down the deformed-old-man and nonsensical t-shirt infested streets of Shimla to board our Dharamsala-bound bus. Upon climbing into our dusty seats that smelled of diesel and Indian government inefficiency, we were accosted by a dour, frumpy European woman, who sat authoritatively beside an equally bemused Asian gal with the hairstyle of a preschool boy. Maybe that’s what made her so bemused. It was fairly bemusing to us at least.
“This is going to be a terrible journey,” she garbled stringently at us in her North Sea dialect. “I am wondering, do you want to split a taxi with us?”
“No way!” we (essentially) told her, “This ride is gonna be siiiick!”
Well, she was right and we were wrong. (For further information on that ride, see here, or just use your imagination.) Throughout the trip’s many minor and major disasters, despite Devon throwing as many smiles and “isn’t this fun?” type jokes her way as possible, Dutch Lady had managed to maintain an impenetrable air of pissiness. And a liquid of one too, for at one smoking-bus-engine-cool-off stop, the bus nearly left her quite literally in the dust, squatting behind a tea shop. We halted it for her, perhaps out of some intrinsic allegience to humankind, but perhaps also just so we could keep making jokes.
Anyway, as it turned out, eleven hours, a blown-out tire, and at least twelve engine overheatings later we did share a taxi with her, up from the Dharamsala bus stop to Mcleod Gainj, and judging by the amount of time it took her to split a 100 Rs fare (six minutes), we were best off sticking to the one-taxi-per-lifetime deal with her. So as dusk descended and she wafted off into the hippie ether of Mcleod, we could only say “good riddance to bad Dutch rubbish”.
But The Dutch Lady refused to be riddanced – or, at least, her Asian counterpart refused to. Incessantly.
Stumbling upwards towards the peak of Triund past a donkey-fed trailside cafe, our shirts hanging open, the sweat glistening masculinely off our nipple-hairs, our attempted momentum was suddenly shattered by a spritely “Hey, I know you two! Guys from the bus, hey!” Although the voice didn’t ring any prayer bells, we looked up and spotted a familiar boyish haircut. It was she, Singapore Sally, as we very cleverly called her (due to her both being from Singapore and a girl – not to reveal too much of our genius).
“Oh hey.” Having no other real connection to her, we tossed it out there. “Where’s Dutch Lady?” Our increasingly altitude-afflicted ears could not have been more relieved at Sally’s reply.
“Dutch Lady! Oh, I dunno where she is. I am not with her. She’s crazy!” Never being the type to not pry, we begged for the juicy details. Turns out Dutch Lady:
- Snared Singapore Sally into buddying up with her for a few days on the grounds they were two solo female travelers (in a town that is full of them).
- Is convinced she has stalkers. Yes, multiple. Despite acknowledging her age and… condition. And that one of them had followed her all the way to Dharamsala. Not from Shimla; from the Netherlands. And that he was on our bus. Could he have been one of us? We can only hope.
- Is coasting off her inheritance and counting every single rupee she spends. So anally that when once she couldn’t account for 60 of them (about $1.28) she flipped out and wouldn’t shut up about it.
- Is not a fan of researching the places she visits, or choosing her battles, as she complained constantly about – of all things to complain about – the dustiness of India.